Lately on the blog, we’ve been discussing personality. The workplace is filled with a variety of personalities. Chances are than in your own workplace, no two people are completely the same. We human beings operate on such a wide spectrum of temperaments informed by our worldview, past experiences, comfort level, and thinking methods—and those are just some of the things that make up how we show up in the world.
When it comes to personality, you’ll hear two words in particular: introversion and extraversion. Introverts are people who are energized by spending time alone, while extraverts are people who are energized by spending time with others. There’s actually a scientific explanation for this as well.
Gene specialist Dean Hamer at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland discovered that extraverts have a long D4DR gene on Chromosome 11—a neurotransmitter connected to excitement and physical activity—that’s less sensitive to dopamine. As a result, they require more external input to maintain their level of drive. (Introverts, on the other have, have a shortened version of this gene and a heightened sensitivity to dopamine, so they tend to become more overwhelmed with external activity far more quickly than their extraverted counterparts).
The good news is that requiring more external input makes extraverts a perfect for a high-energy workplace that thrives on team collaboration.
In fact, here are 3 benefits of having extraverted employees:
Extraverts tend to thrive in social situations
An extravert’s need for external input makes them great candidates for team lead or customer-facing positions. Assigning extraverts as committee heads is another great way to make the best use of their personalities, as they tend to enjoy situations where they can motivate others and collaborate in a group setting to reach a common goal.
Have an upcoming networking event, seminar, or tradeshow for your company? Send in your extraverts. Making conversation tends to come easily to extraverts, and they typically are at ease in settings where they can mix and mingle with potential networking contacts.
Extraverts tend to prefer staying productive
An extravert’s need for external stimuli means they typically enjoy diving into a variety of projects to stay stimulated and productive. Of course, the downside is that having a very high arousal base means extraverts tend to also get bored easily. They may also lean toward generating a number of ideas and jumping from one to the other (“shiny object syndrome”) to stay excited.
For this reason, it’s important to give extraverts direction and feedback in order to keep their ideas focused as opposed to scattered. This is another time when team collaboration, which extraverts tend to love, can be helpful, as it keeps extraverts engaged with the big picture and on track to accomplish their project goals.
Extraverts can make great team players
It bears repeating: extraverted employees tend to thrive in team settings where they regularly interact with others and can build off the energy, excitement, and ideas of their colleagues. Extraverts are usually comfortable with communication and relaying information, so they thrive in collaborative situations where their social skills are in demand.
Of course, their ‘gift of gab’ often means they tend to be better talkers than listeners, so it’s important to help your extraverted employees find the perfect balance between talking and listening. That way, they’re not just sharing their ideas with others but also opening themselves up as a resource for their fellow team members in addition to maintaining healthy workplace relationships.
At the end of the day, whether an employee is introverted or extraverted, it all comes down to knowing how to manage your team members in a way that best brings out their skills, talents, and strengths. When we look past what makes us different and build up our employees to be their best possible selves, our companies will thrive like never before.